Councillor ran a drugs factory

Stephen Crowther
Stephen Crowther

A PARISH councillor who boasted he was an anti-drug role model to kids has been told by a judge he must find £21,500 for helping run a £7,000 drugs factory.

Married Stephen Crowther, 56, of Marine Valley, who ran Flamborough DIY and a haulage business, was jailed for 15 months in February this year after police discovered a cannabis factory on Bempton Industrial Estate.

Crowther's cannabis factory

Crowther's cannabis factory

Crowther was released early on license from prison in May and appeared at Hull Crown court last Thursday (December 15) under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to claw back the money from his crime.

Crown barrister Howard Shaw said police were satisfied Crowther had benefited to the tune of £21,500 from allowing his rented industrial unit to grow cannabis.

When police officers raided the unit in September 2009 they found growing trays, heating, lighting and equipment for cultivating the drug and 123 plants.

The street value was £6,940, enough for 348 street deals valued at £20 each.

The police found his van abandoned three miles away in Bempton Road, Bridlington, with 14 illegal plants inside. In February Judge Jeremy Richardson, QC said Crowther was more involved than he claimed and was guilty of “sickening hypocrisy” purporting to be anti-drugs , but in private allowing it to be grown.

“You purported to be anti-drugs in public and yet in private you were involved in cannabis production. It was nauseating hypocrisy quite apart from it being a serious crime. I have no hesitation in saying your criminality warrants an immediate custodial sentence. You have served your community in the past and have let them down badly. You have brought shame on your family. You have caused that and no one else,” said Judge Richardson

Crowther pleaded guilty to being concerned in the production of a controlled Class B drug cannabis between September 1 2009 and September 16 2009.

At last Thursday’s hearing, his defence barrister Andrew Strannex said Crowther needed time to pay £21,500 and would be cashing in a pension policy identified by the police.

He maintained he was the victim of a man called gypsy John who he said was renting the unit. Also, as a pillar of the community as a parish councillor he had started a youth committee to serve his community.

He has since resigned from the parish council.

Recorder Peter Pimm told Crowther: “I rule that your benefit figure was £21,500 and that the available amount for the court is the same. You should pay that amount in six months or serve 12 months in prison in default.”